« ПредишнаНапред »
that I should immediately go distracted. The next morning I called upon you, and told me, that I was in the strong hand of God, and mentioned many passages of scripture descriptive of my state, and said I should go deeper yet, and that the Lord would bring me out in his own time, which gave me some encouragement for the present; but I soon thought that you was deceived in me, for my load of guilt and bondage grew heavier than ever, and Satan began to buffet and accuse me in a cruel manner, and persuaded me that I had told you many lies, and that I could expect no blessing under your ministry, insomuch that I was ashamed to go into your chapel; and when I was there, I was in such terror, that I was forced to hold fast by the seats, lest I should be driven out distracted. My body, also, sometimes has been worked up into such strange feelings, as though it would burst. I have sometimes thought that I was dumb, and wished the sermon to be ended, that I might try whether I could speak or not. At other times my neck has appeared to be so stiff that I could not turn my head, and often I felt as though the use of my limbs was taken away. Indeed I feared I was entirely given up to the devil, for I could receive nothing from your mouth but condemnation; I saw myself to be one of the vilest wretches that ever crawled upon the earth, and, as I had sat under the gospel so long, I looked on myself fully
ripe for ruin and destruction, and sunk deeper and deeper in despair.
One sabbath morning I took a walk; and while I was walking and pondering over the sad state I was in, never expecting to be any better, I thought I would not go to hear you any more, but would wander about all the day; when these words came powerfully to my mind, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him;" what to do I knew not, for I expected if I went to hear that I should only be made worse. However I was forced to go; and in your sermon you was speaking of the power that God displays in holding all things in existence, and of devils and damned souls being kept in their misery, while his incensed justice, flashing on them, stirred up the flames; I had such a view of their state that I was almost distracted; my throat was so hot through the terrors I felt, that I set off directly you ended your sermon to get some small beer to cool it, but expected soon to be where I should not be allowed a drop of water. My friends strove to comfort me; but I was desperate, and would not hear them. However, in the evening, I came to hear you again; and, after wrestling hard with God in prayer for his blessing, I heard you from these words in Romans, "The Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities," &c. Here you spoke of the difference between one who was given up to the devil as Judas was, and one who was under
convictions by the Spirit of God; and before the sermon was ended I lost all my load, and went away rejoicing in hope. O! what a change was this! But this lasted but a short time, for on Monday evening you cut me down again; Tuesday evening, at Monkwell street, I got a little comfort; but, on Wednesday evening, down I went again, for, indeed, the words have come with such amazing power from your mouth, as to make my heart sink like a stone. I got no more such comfort again for five or six months, but thought I was given up to hardness of heart; during which time my sleep was almost taken from me, so that I thought it pretty well if I could get one night's rest out of three; but sometimes I had not a minute's sleep for three nights and days together, which made my head so bad, that I thought I should have lost my rationality; and being by trade a journeyman shoemaker, it was hard for me to keep my seat, and for many months I did not do a day's work in a week, and for a whole fortnight none at all; but my good and gracious God would not suffer me to starve.
While I was in this state, one evening you preached from these words, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." O! what an evening was this to me! I thought the Lord had sent you to preach this discourse, that I might receive my sentence first from your mouth; and then I expected that my soul would soon be separated from my body, in order to receive the sen
tence from a consuming fire, or an angry judge, which is no less. You appeared to be the worst enemy I had in this world, because I thought that your ministry was made a savour of death unto death to me; and I thought that every one that looked at me would be a witness against me. All the following night I had no rest, but expected to be cut off every moment; hell seemed to be open to receive me, the terror of my mind was so great, and the enmity of my heart was so stirred up, that I was like a wild bull in a net, full of the fury and rebuke of God, Isaiah li. 20. And the anger of God was so reflected on me, that I thought I heard Satan rushing behind the wainscot in order to seize my soul. I generally had four such nights as this out of seven, insomuch that I would have given a world, if I had had it, for one hour's peace, before I sunk into endless misery; I sometimes tried to harden myself against it, but the more I strove, the worse I was; and, to add to my affliction, there was a great dog in a yard near to where I lodged, howling and jumping up in his chains all night long; this was having the law sent home indeed; and it was well for me that my friends were people that feared God, for if I had lived with some folks I should have been put into bedlam. My having so much terror brought my body so very low, that I felt continually as if I were dying; and I have got out of my bed five or six times in a night to make my escape from death, and have
run into my brother's room with whom I lodged, telling him and my sister that I knew I was dying, till I wore out the patience of all who were about me; I have often stood by their bed-side in all the horrors of the damned, telling them these were the happiest moments I should ever know. After going on some time in this manner, they advised me to come and see you again. After much persuasion I consented; but you, being very busy, could not see me: I therefore thought God had impressed it on your mind that I was a reprobate, and so you would not see me; and, though I generally heard you preach four or five sermons in a week, I was so swallowed up with despair that they were of no use to me. One day I heard you say, a man in black despair is a hell upon earth; indeed I thought you was right, for if ever there was a creature that carried hell about with him, I did; my distress caused such a burning heat in my face, that I thought it was some of the fire and brimstone already kindled within me: and so dreadful was my rebellion, that I told my friends I expected to make an awful end; and had such conceptions of the dreadful blasphemy there was in the bottomless pit, that made me cry to God, that when I got there he would not permit Satan to make me blaspheme, but wished to bear my punishment without murmuring. And as I had no hope of ever being saved, I began to pray God to give me health and strength to get my bread; but could not pray in faith: for I